Oliver caught up with Desert Vista head coach Dan Hinds last Thursday, hand delivering a scholarship offer for his standout defensive end Devon Kennard.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Kennard now has 13 scholarship offers and counting, as Notre Dame joins Florida, LSU, USC, North Carolina, Oregon State, San Diego State, Arizona State, Arizona, Oregon, Nevada, Stanford and Colorado in extending a full ride. Scout.com has already ranked Kennard as a four-star recruit.
"It was a big deal," an excited Kennard said on Sunday. He has recorded 101 tackles and 24.5 sacks, helping lead the Thunder to a 9-4 record and a spot in this weekend's 5-A Division-I state championship game. They will meet Phoenix Brophy, whom beat Robinson's Hamilton team, 24-14 in the other semifinal.
"Every scholarship offer is important because when it comes down to it, I have to make a decision and Notre Dame is definitely a school I would consider going to."
Kennard's father Derek Kennard Sr. played college ball at Nevada, and went on to a 13-year NFL career as an offensive lineman for the Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys. He retired in 1996.
His older brother Derek Jr. played defensive tackle at Nevada, graduating in 2004, and was scooped up as a rookie free agent by the Indianapolis Colts. He was an off-and-on addition to the Colts practice squad and later played in Canada. He is now the defensive line coach at Desert Vista.
"They're the ones who introduced the game to me and taught me everything I know," Kennard said. He was young when his father played in the league, but remembered sitting on top of his shoulders on the field at the Super Bowl after the Cowboys won a championship. "From there, I had to decide how good I was going to let myself be and just go with it."
Kennard decided to be real good.
As a sophomore, he had 81 tackles and seven sacks. He also plays fullback for the Thunder.
"He's just a hard worker, a playmaker. a leader," Kennard Jr. said. "He just tries to lead by example by being a hard worker with a high motor. He plays strong side, weak side, stands up, rushes off the end, and also plays fullback. He averages about close to seven yards per carry."
Kennard doesn't really know much about Notre Dame, or really any other school for that matter at this point.
"I know they had a bad year this year, but usually they have a good program and are pretty solid," Kennard said, adding that he doesn't have any favorites yet. "That's all I really know about them."
Kennard hasn't had a chance to talk with Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis yet.
"He talked to my coach," Kennard said. "I know he had my coach tell me they're real excited about me and highly interested."
Kennard had been getting plenty of mail stamped with the Golden Dome, but was caught off guard with the quick offer.
"It was kind of random because I hadn't been able to talk to them much," Kennard said. "I thought they'd offer eventually, but this was kind of at a random time."
The way Hinds likes to move Kennard around on the defensive side of the ball, it sounds like he perfectly fits into the mold of that hybrid linebacker/defensive end position in Irish defensive coordinator Corwin Brown's scheme.
"I think I'm definitely capable of doing that because my athletic ability is pretty good," Kennard said. He bench presses 335 pounds and squats 400. "I think I'd be capable of doing that pretty easily.
"In certain formations you can consider me more of a linebacker, but I'm for the most part a straight up defensive end."
Kennard, who has a 3.9 GPA, hasn't had the opportunity to see too many schools. Arizona State is right around the corner, so he's been there a few times. He's been to one game at Arizona. This summer he'll sit down with his brother and figure out what camps and combines to attend. Distance doesn't seem to be an issue.
"I'm just looking for the college that's best for me," Kennard said. If it's away, it's away. I'm going to make my choice off of where I'm comfortable. Coming into next year, I'll start narrowing down schools and deciding where I want to go on my official visits."
Maybe a potential business trip of his own to South Bend.